Drill Baby Drill…Just Not For Oil.

After almost a year, Curiosity is once again putting holes into the Martian surface to find out what lies below.

It is almost a year since Curiosity last turned its drill on Mars

Most of the delay was because of the more than three miles (5km) journey the rover too to get closer to its primary target Aeolis Mons.

The path for the last few months has been very rocky and treacherous and the going has been slow.  Not to mention that the 400 or so scientists vying for time with the Curiosity keep stopping it to pick up whatever data they can.

Since 23 January, the rover has more or less stayed in one place, snuggled up next to a reddish rock nicknamed John Klein, in a region called Yellowknife Bay.  And it may stay there for a while longer, starting in April, Mars will be behind the Sun as seen from Earth, and no spacecraft on or around Mars will be able to radio home.

Selfie

Still, more exciting news from Mars should be coming from the rover after this month of radio silence. Of course no scientific journey of unmanned exploration would be complete without a selfie.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Bus Tracks On Mars

Curiosity’s trip has been captured in an interesting image.

The school bus sized rover has left a trail that the orbiting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera captured.

The rover is currently making its way to the Kimberley area.  It was named after the Western Australian region.

'Australia' on Mars

Oddly enough, Curiosity took this image of a rock that looks strikingly like Australia.

https://i0.wp.com/curiosityrover.com/rovertrack.jpg

Curiosity will remain at the Kimberly for several weeks scooping samples of regolith (a layer of loose, heterogeneous material covering solid rock that includes dust, soil, broken rock, and other related materials) and drilling into rocks to access the pristine material below the surface for analysis in the rover’s on board chemistry suite.

Although the path as been winding and strange, Curiosity is making good headway.  Stay tuned for further updates.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Mars – Most Probably Habitable.

Although there has been spectacular hype regarding a billionaires manned trip to Mars, the actual science supports the fact that humans can survive on the red planet.

Curiosity has taken extensive radiation measurements of the planet and the findings look good for a manned mission.

A mission to Mars would consist of a 180-day spaceflight, a 500-day stay (so that Mars and Earth would be in the right position for the return trip) and another 180-day return flight.

The astronauts would be exposed to about 1.01 sieverts of radiation.  As you can see from the chart above, that is less than the cumulative radiation that everyone is exposed to over a year.

However, 1-sievert exceeds NASA’s current standards. But those guidelines were drawn up with missions to low-Earth orbit in mind, and adjustments for longer space mission will have to be made for future exploration.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Curiosity Turns 1!

It seems like yesterday the Curiosity was a bouncing….well free falling…baby spacecraft waiting to hatch, er…be dropped stork-like on to surface of Mars.

 

Although not as old as its bouncing, literally, cousins Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity has not been idle.

Curiosity, which is the size of a car, has traveled 764 yards (699 meters) in the past four weeks after finishing experiments at one location for the past six months.

Curiosity is heading to the base of Mount Sharp, to perform more experiments before heading up the mountain (about 3 mile or 5.5 km high).  It is expected to take the better part of a year to get to the final point of the scheduled mission.

However, if Curiosity is anything like its cousins, data collection will continue well beyond the original program (with sufficient budget of course).  I mean really, after traveling millions of miles, and basically being dropped off, this rover should last for a long time.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Giga-Pixels to explore Mars

My dreams of high-definition astrophotography have already been realized by NASA’s Curiosity rover.

The rover took over 900 images using the rover’s mastcam.  The Mastcam can take high-definition video at 10 frames per second.  There are actually two cameras on the mast.

The telephoto Mastcam, or “Mastcam 100” has a 100-millimeter focal-length, f/10 lens with a 5.1° square field of view that provides enough resolution to distinguish a basketball from a football at a distance of seven football fields, or to read “ONE CENT” on a penny on the ground beside the rover.

Its other camera is the “Mastcam 34” and has a 34 mm, f/8 lens with a 15° square field of view.

Both of the cameras take 1200 x 1200 pixel (1.4 Megapixel) images using a 1600 by 1200 CCD detector. But each pixel of the CCD detectors are different size. Both cameras can acquire high definition 720p video at 10 frames per second.

The images where then were painstakingly stitched together to produce the first billion plus pixel view of the surface of Mars.  The 1.3 Gigapixel 360 degree image is available for everyone to view with pan and zoom here. If that is too much for you to handle, a scaled down version is available for download here.

“It gives a sense of place and really shows off the cameras’ capabilities,” said Bob Deen of the Multi-Mission Image Processing Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “You can see the context and also zoom in to see very fine details.”

The CCD camera that I currently use takes 8.3 Megapixel images, so I could possible stitch together something similar, but I don’t think I have the same zest for doing it like this all sky photo.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

I Need A Nap.

Really! After a gruelling 255 day trip, with a very frightening landing I get put on the “garden” spot of Mars.  I mean really.  First, they shoot me through space, parachute and rocket me down, then lower me on a cable (and a wing and a prayer if you ask me) and abandon me to my own resources.

Can you imagine?  Then those bastards at JPL put me to work!  I am so tired, I just think I will nap for a few weeks.  The sun is low in the sky and I need to save my strength for the next round of commands (look at that rock, move over there, collect some samples, Jeesh!).

 

I swear if my laser had enough power…POW, straight to the Moon, JPL, straight to the Moon!  I think I will just sleep for about a month.  I’ll feel less stressed after a good long nap.  See you on the flip side, of Mars that is…

BTW, please don’t worry if you didn’t get the Honeymooners reference.  I happen to be a fan.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +.  If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

Norman